Threat to National Cycle Route 8 at Caernarfon.

posted in: Campaigning

An audacious proposed development of rural land through which NCR8’s Lon Menai runs has provoked rage from walkers and cyclists alike.

The Daily Post reports that the backers behind the scheme are proposing to develop a leisure park on the Plas Brereton and Plas Ty Coch estates situated on the Menai Strait side of the A487 on the outskirts of Caernarfon.  The developers have expressed a wish to buy the former rail line, now an important section of National Cycle Route 8 running through the project, and diverting the route to run along the main road between Bangor and Caernarfon.(See A,B, and C on this Promap)

The undertaking is linked with other developments in the area, not least £16m restoration of Plas Glynllifon, on the other side of Caernarfon,  into a luxury hotel.

This new proposal plans an expansive leisure facility by restoring the currently derelict properties and erecting low density luxury holiday lodges  ,   The plans include manor house restoration and conversion, erection of low density luxury holiday lodges, quayside development to provide additional moorings and outbuildings, with a seafood restaurant with inevitable land committed to the movement and parking of cars.

.The project on the new site will include a 100 bedroom hotel with a pool, spa, restaurants and bars and housing on the banks of the Menai Strait and further housing on grassland between Plas Brereton and the quay.Under the scheme derelict Plas Ty Coch would be restored into luxury period apartments with low density housing in the grounds of the mansion and the restoration of walled and formal gardens.

Reflecting the alarm of the many who use this route for both leisure and commuting   Roy Spilsbury Local Representative for CyclingUK, in a report to the Daily Post stated ‘

Roy Spilsbury offering thumbs up for Lon Menai.

The developers behind the proposal to construct a substantial holiday complex at Plas Brereton, Plas Ty Coch, and the adjacent Menai Strait foreshore at Caernarfon, and thereby extinguish and divert the National Cycle Trail onto a busy highway, are correct in assuming this will be controversial.

Whatever the merits or otherwise the project has in the wider scheme of things, and make no mistake substantial motor traffic would be generated, it is unthinkable that this internationally popular traffic-free trail should be sacrificed for private interest and profit.
Local authorities have a mandatory duty under the widely acclaimed Active Travel legislation to continuously improve facilities and routes for commuter walking, cycling, and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside.  The proposal for the walking and cycling trail does not meet the needs of the Act, indeed it will present a shabby alternative to the present sublime tree lined route.  Experience shows that like a chain, walking and cycling routes are no stronger than their weakest link, and the proposal to divert, as proposed, will discourage many from using this trail.
As such it will be expected that Gwynedd CC will deny the sale of this priceless environmental asset. To do otherwise would add fuel to growing doubts as to whether government is prepared to add clout to its well intended rhetoric on active travel in the face of increasing demands of petrol fueled hyper mobility.

Cyclingnorthwales says:-

Lon Menai is an integral link in National Cycle Routes 5 & 8 as they traverse through some of the most delightful parts of North Wales. It is a Welsh treasure and highly valued route for many international visitors travelling under their own steam. See the Beard Brothers video to get some of the flavour.    And not only is Lon Menai under threat, but also its connecting Lon Eifion, each pivoting on Caernarfon. This video was shown at the Caernarfon Bypass public inquiry in 2017.